Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.
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ROCHESTER – Throughout most of the season, Randolph was untouchable with senior Nate Overby on the mound. But Lewiston-Altura, they were completely untouchable in the Section 1A tournament. And because of that, the Cardinals are headed back to state. Cracking the bats for 15 hits against the Rockets' top starting pitcher, Lewiston-Altura needed just one game to win the section championship with a 7-0 victory at Mayo Field. The Cardinals never took a loss in the section tournament.
CANNON FALLS -- The back nine at Cannon Golf Club is so tough that even a 25-stroke lead didn’t feel safe for Red Wing. Mark Herzog, the Wingers’ girls’ golf coach was starting to worry when after eight holes, second-place Lakeville North cut eight strokes from its deficit with the toughest part of the course looming with a stiff wind “I knew that on the back nine, anything can happen. It can be a circus in the back nine,” Mark said.
Backyards are usually where kids can imagine when a baseball goes over the fence, they hit a home run at Target Field. Or, the family gets together for a light-hearted game of badminton. Perhaps the neighborhood kids are running around confined quarters for freeze tag. For Grahm Johnson and his siblings, their fun came from steel balls and weighted discus. It's far from the norm of wiffle balls and playgrounds, but it's perfectly natural for a family of throwers that have been a Red Wing track and field legacy for more than a decade.
LAKEVILLE – The last two years, Madisyn Lyons and Paige Patterson have been locked in a friendly competition. Both sophomores, the Red Wing duo have been the top two jumpers on the Winger girls' track and field team. Lyons and Patterson both qualified for state last year and this spring, they have been trying to set a new school record in the triple jump. “Up until now, it's been like, 'Who's going to get it,” Patterson said.
ROCHESTER – The Lake City girls already had a 35-stroke lead after Day 1 of the Section 1AA championship. But the Tigers have championship aspirations, and title contenders don't rest on their laurels. “I talked to them before we went out and said, 'We have a lead but that doesn't mean we can just slack off.' I wanted them to come out strong today,” said Lake City senior Emily Schimbeno. And frankly, that's never been the way Lake City operates, according to head coach Steve Randgaard.
Ben Domagala got his swagger back. After rough outings in his last two appearances against Northfield (1 2/3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB) and Simley (3 1/3 IP, 2 R, 3 H), the Wingers junior right-hander was tasked with keeping his team in the winner's bracket of the Section 1AAA tournament Monday against Austin. And not only did Domagala stop his skid, he thrived on the big stage, holding the sixth-seeded Packers to just three hits as second-seeded Red Wing advanced with a 3-0 victory at the Red Wing Athletic Field.
Perhaps the only thing that has consistently given Teddy Tauer trouble this year has been the first inning. And in the first inning of Saturday's Section 1AAA opener against seventh-seeded Stewartville, Tauer and the second-seeded Wingers looked like they were in trouble as the Tigers had the bases loaded with one out. “(The) first inning is always my worst,” Tauer said. “I don't know what about it, but for some reason, guys get on and I try to battle through.”
ST. PAUL – Red Wing's Al Bettich and Ben Schaffer got to within one match of state, reaching the true second-place match of the Section 4A doubles tournament. While being able to play a tight first set with St. Paul Academy duo Rahul Dev and Jeffrey Huang, Bettich and Schaffer came up short in their state bid with a 7-6 (10-8), 6-3 loss at St. Paul Academy and Summit School on Thursday.
RANDOLPH – Pitching and defense is something that Randolph knew they had plenty of coming into the season. Combine that with an offense that has improved as the season's gone on, and the Rockets are hoping the season will last well into June. And in the first round of the Section 1A-East playoffs Thursday, second-seeded Randolph had little trouble utilizing all three phases of the game in a convincing 10-0 five-inning victory against seventh-seeded Spring Grove.
RANDOLPH – Fast starts haven't been the problem for the Randolph softball team this season. Maintaining those fast starts have been the issue. That nearly cost the second-seeded Rockets in the first round of the Section 1A-East tournament when they were nearly upset by seventh-seeded Mabel-Canton in the opening round before winning 12-11 on Tuesday. “They've done a good job of jumping on people, just in middle innings we fall asleep sometimes,” said Randolph head coach Dennis Trom.